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    [post_content] => Team Cambodia has arrived at LAX! Students have just cleared customs and immigration and are waiting to pick up their bags. Those who are traveling onto their final destinations will transfer to their respective terminals and flight check-in counters, while those meeting parents in LA should be emerging from the baggage claim area in the next 10-15 minutes.

Thanks for your patience and support. It was an incredible summer!

Best,

Justin

 
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SUMMER: Cambodia

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Arrival in LA

Justin Kiersky,SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

Team Cambodia has arrived at LAX! Students have just cleared customs and immigration and are waiting to pick up their bags. Those who are traveling onto their final destinations will transfer to their respective terminals and flight check-in counters, while those meeting parents in LA should be emerging from the baggage claim area in the next 10-15 […]

Posted On

07/29/16

Author

Justin Kiersky

Category

SUMMER: Cambodia

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    [post_date] => 2016-07-28 10:37:34
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    [post_content] => Family and friends,

The Cambodia students are checked-in to their return flight and waiting to take off. They depart from Phnom Penh and have a significant layover in Shanghai before catching their flights back to LA. For the most up-to-date travel information, please refer to the following Flight Tracker page for China Eastern Flight 760 here.

We'll send another Field Note when students arrive in LA at 10:05AM (local time) tomorrow.

Hope this finds you well,

Justin
    [post_title] => Cambodia: On the Road Again
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View post

Cambodia: On the Road Again

Anna, Jess, Caleb,SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

Family and friends, The Cambodia students are checked-in to their return flight and waiting to take off. They depart from Phnom Penh and have a significant layover in Shanghai before catching their flights back to LA. For the most up-to-date travel information, please refer to the following Flight Tracker page for China Eastern Flight 760 […]

Posted On

07/28/16

Author

Anna, Jess, Caleb

Category

SUMMER: Cambodia

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View post

My ISP

Luisa Rojo,SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

My ISP

Posted On

07/28/16

Author

Luisa Rojo

Category

SUMMER: Cambodia

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    [post_content] => They took their pictures

They took their pictures and didn't care

They tied their backs and all you would hear are slaps

these children wore tags also had their head bashed on the killing tree

They took their pictures as they stare, so scared

too young to understand

too young to even become a man

oh how many wish it was a dream but all they woke up to were screams

They took their pictures

they made them feel scared and alone

tore them away from their families and homes

They wiped away their identities and made them into one entity

They took their pictures, soldiers wiped away all the good

They changed things as they believed they should

Follow the organization! You work for the organization!

The organizations word is above all!

Little did they know, they were leading the country to its downfall.

 

 

 

 

 
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SUMMER: Cambodia

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The children of the killing fields

Susan Gutierrez,SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

They took their pictures They took their pictures and didn’t care They tied their backs and all you would hear are slaps these children wore tags also had their head bashed on the killing tree They took their pictures as they stare, so scared too young to understand too young to even become a man […]

Posted On

07/28/16

Author

Susan Gutierrez

Category

SUMMER: Cambodia

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    [post_date] => 2016-07-26 15:47:22
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    [post_content] => Dear Cambodia Students & Families,

Cambodia summer program students will soon be boarding their planes to return home and share their tales of adventure with each of you. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for your reference:

July 29th, 2016

China Eastern #759

Depart: Phnom Penh (PNH) 12:15 AM

Arrive: Shanghai (PVG) 4:55 AM

 

July 29th, 2016

China Eastern #583

Depart: Shanghai (PVG) 1:00 PM

Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 10:05 AM

Should you need any assistance during student travel days, please call our Admin cell phone for assistance: 303-921-6078, or email: update@wheretherebedragons.com.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Dragons Administration
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SUMMER: Cambodia

View post

Return Travel Information

Eva Vanek,SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

Dear Cambodia Students & Families, Cambodia summer program students will soon be boarding their planes to return home and share their tales of adventure with each of you. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for your reference: July 29th, 2016 China Eastern […]

Posted On

07/26/16

Author

Eva Vanek

Category

SUMMER: Cambodia

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    [post_content] => 

I don’t know how to be thankful enough for Heraclitus, that ancient Greek I’ve always pictured roaming around Athens a little mussy haired and wild-eyed. Imagine him claiming that fire was the origin of all things and that permanence was illusory echoing through courtyards decades before they broke ground on the Parthenon. “Isn’t it clear enough that everything is in a process of constant change?”, he must have pleaded in koine. But it’s his one-liner about rivers that’s stuck with me most, one of those insights so simple and concise that it seems roughly analogous to an atom of lingual expression, a building block of existential thought, nearly indivisible in its economy and incisiveness.

I think of these words often in Cambodia in particular, a country more defined by its rivers than any I’ve ever known. Heraclitus was talking about change, of course, and of course the genius in the words is how they form a placid surface in which the speaker is reflected as clearly as someone looking down at themselves in the subtle current of the river he must have sat beside.

Our group is in the middle of a homestay on an island in the Bassac River of southeast Cambodia called Koh Kasach Tonlea. The matriach of the home in which I’ve been sleeping is well into her afternoon nap on a bamboo palette beneath the house, a radio by her head crackling with local news while no fewer than 20 newly-hatched chicks literally peep in a cadence that can’t quite be called harmonious or cacophonous. The position of the sun is making the trees into perfect cylinders of shade. Clotheslines hang heavy with garments spanning the entire spectrum of perceptible light, and the heat has a constricting quality that is broken, mercifully, by the occasional breeze carried in off the water. Rain is coming, but not yet.

For five summers now Cambodia has become a place for me to take the year’s accounts. What have I seen? What have I learned? Who have I been? My own exploration of life outside the borders of the United States began here 13 years ago, and continued in much more depth 3 years after that. I remember so well the dust bowl that Phnom Penh was back then, the rawness of life in the countryside, the feeling that there was something important to be found at the end of each laterite road. At the risk of dramatizing the whole thing, I don’t think it’s be too far-fetched to suggest that I came of age in this flood plain. The noon rustle of jackfruit leaves and anvil thunderheads and gilded wats and nasally, chopped syllables and sinewy rivers set into motion some kind of shift to which whoever I’d been before was effectively lost.

To be fair, I don’t know exactly how any of that works, and that’s not really even the point. The point, at least to me and probably old Herry, too, is the inevitably of such changes, of how everything we think we know is in such a state of perpetual flux that our nostalgic little hearts can hardly bear it. And all of this has to do with perception, too. We do our best to come to grips with our lives using a handful of senses of many thousands of generations of instincts hard-wired into fragile circuitry but can’t get past the limitations of our own deceptive lens.

At a tech conference several weeks ago Elon Musk suggested that when considering the advancement we’ve seen over the last several decades in the complexity of video games, the odds of Earth and its inhabitants existing in “base reality” are one in several billion. What he was suggesting is (in his opinion, strong) possibility that what we think of as reality is actually just a simulation, perhaps unwittingly making one of the most interesting theological statements by an atheist in recent memory. But like all theological statements it is practically impossible to prove or disprove, and like all theological statements it relies on a kind of faith as its bedrock, even if it’s faith dressed up with very advanced science and delivered by someone who in many ways has a pulpit positioned at the cutting-edge of the future of our species.

I hear stuff like that and can’t quite get it out of my head; I find myself wandering around abandoned buildings or mango orchards touching things, wondering in whose mind it might be that we exist. What kind of game-maker would create this improbable world? I’m not even convinced that the words “base reality” have any reliable meaning that wouldn’t result in some Philosophy of Language grad students getting into a really inept fistfight, but it’s an interesting way to re-frame what is probably the conscious mind’s most central question.

Change in Cambodia is palpable, unavoidable, visible even without the assistance of long distances or passing time. It towers above you, runs beneath your feet, transforms entire ecosystems in periods that seem more time-lapse photography than streaming live. The period of war and societal upheaval 40 years back only make these modern developments seem more pronounced: imagine the chasm of life experience between parents who grew up in labor camps digging canals and eating rice gruel and their children who watch European football highlights on smart phones and fly off to study chemistry in Seoul. We all know what Cambodia’s been, but what will it become?

As our time here comes quickly to a close, the question that’s most pressing for all of us is much the same. Who will we become? If change is inevitable, the best we can do is try to control how we’ll change, not if. It’s my hope that we’re all a little better for this month, that we’re leaving here a little kinder, a little more curious, a little less convinced that our needs are the central narrative of the universe. Base reality or not, I feel challenged again and again to imbue every action of my life with some kind of meaning, to make beauty from whatever found materials life throws this direction. It’s the only valid response I’ve come up with when confronted with a universe that yawns with 600 billion stars beyond our own solar system. So you lay in the heavy midday heat of a rural homestay while sun streams through nail-holes in the walls of corrugated tin to make a planetarium of the room, the pinpricks of light reeling and coalescing as the light falls and clouds roll in pregnant, finally, with rain. This is our only world, fluid and protean to the point of tears, but also urgent and vivid and full of more miracles than can be held by any mind.

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Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Cambodia

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You never go down to the same river twice.

Caleb Brooks,Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

I don’t know how to be thankful enough for Heraclitus, that ancient Greek I’ve always pictured roaming around Athens a little mussy haired and wild-eyed. Imagine him claiming that fire was the origin of all things and that permanence was illusory echoing through courtyards decades before they broke ground on the Parthenon. “Isn’t it clear […]

Posted On

07/24/16

Author

Caleb Brooks

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    [post_content] => While exploring and traveling throughout Cambodia these past few weeks, I continuously had a feeling that something was missing. Something that I couldn't identify. Something meaningful.

As the days went on, despite acquiring more knowledge and love for this country, I still felt as though my expectations remained unfulfilled, as though I wasn't truly taking the most out of this unique experience. Now, don't get me wrong, it was nothing against the program: all of the activities organized by the incredible instructors were truly thought-evoking, the places we visited simply breathtaking, the NGOs we met all equally inspiring. It was just that this unidentifiable feeling persisted.

Naturally, reaching mid-course, I was beginning to question myself; were my expectations too high? Were the goals and takeaways that I envisioned for this trip simply unattainable? While I knew very well that it would be best to just drop all of my expectations, I still kept them constantly in mind; I still kept waiting. That is, until I arrived in Thavrys's small, close-knit, rural Cambodian community.

The very moment I stepped foot on the island, as cliché as this may sound, I instantly knew that my expectations would be fulfilled, that my trip would be worthwhile. In fact, as Noah, Susan, and I sat on a pile of backpacks stacked on the back of a rickety wagon, we greeted everyone we saw with the only actual Khmer word our limited vocabulary had to offer (Souasadai). The response was us being greeted by laughter, smiles, and an occasional 'Hello!'

It was on that wagon that I suddenly realized what had been missing so far in this trip: interaction. Simple interactions with local children, parents, and grandparents were what I needed to make this trip complete. I have come to learn that connecting with people doesn't always require words; it can be achieved through something as small as a smile or a wave. In fact, I feel as though sometimes, more often than not, a language barrier can actually lead to more joyous, light-hearted encounters in which laughter and smiles are the only medium.

My initial interactions only grew as the days went on. One small interaction turned into an album worth of them. Some of my experiences include: singing embarrassingly loud while watching Cambodian Idol with my family, hearing my new seven-year-old best friend say 'I love you', introducing my father to this magical thing known as 'hand sanitizer' and witnessing him excitingly massage it all over his arms, Face-timing my neighbor's sister in France and being promised a visit in California, watching my father wave at me from his fishing boat while shouting my name during sunrise, and consistently being greeted by a genuine smile and loud 'Ju-me-na!' whenever I run into a familiar face.

The list of such interactions could honestly go on for pages, but one this remains certain: each and every one of these encounters are equally precious in my eyes. The joy I gained from such brief, usually silent moments are the ones that I will certainly remember and cherish forever.

My appreciation towards this opportunity is indescribable. No bustling city could ever offer me the profound feeling of acceptance that I received from a small rural community more than 16 hours away from home. To be so openly welcomed and warmly treated by people who cannot speak my language -- to know that I have a place in a small, rural island on the other side of the world...this feeling is not only insanely incredible but also fulfilling.

All in all, I would just like to end with a few simple words, a request that I have for you all:

Stop. Reflect. Appreciate.

Never have such simple actions been so rewarding.
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Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Cambodia

View post

Stop. Reflect. Appreciate.

Jemina Auge,Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

While exploring and traveling throughout Cambodia these past few weeks, I continuously had a feeling that something was missing. Something that I couldn’t identify. Something meaningful. As the days went on, despite acquiring more knowledge and love for this country, I still felt as though my expectations remained unfulfilled, as though I wasn’t truly taking […]

Posted On

07/22/16

Author

Jemina Auge

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    [post_date] => 2016-07-22 08:15:57
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-22 14:15:57
    [post_content] => X-phase is what the student led phase of our summer trip is referred to. We, the students, have 3 nights and 4 days to plan. We can go wherever we want in Cambodia and plan whatever we want to do. Right now we are in Kep, Cambodia all the way down south right on the coast. We left our homestay families this morning with a heartfelt goodbye and rented a van to drive us down here. This is our itinerary for the next few days

Friday July 22

Morning: Leave homestay families and drive down to Kep

Afternoon: Grab a late lunch and explore the city of Kep

Night: Eat dinner at our guesthouse and have a relaxing night

Saturday July 23

Morning: Have breakfast at guesthouse and drive to Kampot to go on kayaks down the river for 2 hours

Afternoon: Eat lunch in Kampot and walk around the city

Night: Go to bat caves in the early evening and then grab dinner on our way back to Kep

Sunday July 24

Morning: Have breakfast at our guesthouse followed by a lesson from our instructors.

Afternoon: Students will present their ISP's to the group.

Night: Go for a sunset walk in Kep National Park and grab dinner near there.

Monday July 25

We leave Kep and take a ferry across the Gulf of Thailand before settling in to Rabbit Island for our transference phase.

:)
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X-Phase

Kerry Smallman,SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

X-phase is what the student led phase of our summer trip is referred to. We, the students, have 3 nights and 4 days to plan. We can go wherever we want in Cambodia and plan whatever we want to do. Right now we are in Kep, Cambodia all the way down south right on the […]

Posted On

07/22/16

Author

Kerry Smallman

Category

SUMMER: Cambodia

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    [post_date] => 2016-07-20 10:00:59
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    [post_content] => 

After my sophomore year dance I went with one of my closest friends, Stevie, to Huck Finn’s diner for pancakes. To compliment her late night treat, Stevie ordered a bottle of chocolate milk. Upon receiving the bill, I learned that the small bottle of milk cost $4. To this day I have not gotten over the fact that she spent $4 on chocolate milk. (Like, seriously, who spends $4 on chocolate milk?)

A couple of days ago, I was in a restaurant with my friend Susan and she ordered a glass of orange juice.  When we got the bill, we realized the price was $3. Upon reading the check we both became very upset, however, we both felt upset for different reasons. While Susan was upset with the fact that she had just dropped $3 on a glass of orange juice, I was upset because I remembered that one night with Stevie.

I’ll admit, I have been feeling rather homesick lately. Every time I walk past a bouquet of flowers I think of my mom and wish I could buy her some. Whenever I see a beautiful dress I envision my sister wearing it for a photo shoot. Also, whenever I spot Cambodian diaper posters I think of my dad, step mom, and two soon-to-be-born baby sisters, and wish I were home to welcome them into the world.

I always heard quotes about how traveling makes you appreciate what you have but I never really understood the gravity behind such quotes until now. It’s not that I miss the luxuries I had back at home; it’s more so that I miss the people I love dearly.

Despite feeling homesick, I’ll admit that my vulnerability is not entirely a bad thing. Being in this position has helped me grow even closer to the people around me and appreciate my environment. I may not have very much technology, but I do have a guitar in my house to make music with. I may not have a car to transport me long distances, but I do have a bike to carry me around the island that I’m currently situated on. And sure, I may not have the comfort of having my family and friends here to support me throughout my difficult journey, but I have met some incredible people (shout out to Jemina and Susan) that I adore and will indubitably travel with again in the future.

All-in-all, I firmly believe that this experience, although difficult at times, has shaped the way I will travel in the future. Before I conclude this field note, I want to give a quick shout out to all the families of students who are currently overseas. Although some of us won’t admit it, we all miss some aspect of home and can’t wait to return and tell you guys about our traveling stories.

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Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Cambodia

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Chocolate memories

Noah Arroyo,Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

After my sophomore year dance I went with one of my closest friends, Stevie, to Huck Finn’s diner for pancakes. To compliment her late night treat, Stevie ordered a bottle of chocolate milk. Upon receiving the bill, I learned that the small bottle of milk cost $4. To this day I have not gotten over […]

Posted On

07/20/16

Author

Noah Arroyo

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    [post_content] => Everyday we do a group "check-in" to see how people are doing. Part of that is asking everyone to share a "high" moment, a "low" moment and a "ha" moment since the last check-in.

Here's the highs, lows, and 'ha's of everyone's day so far at the homestay:

Susan's high is that her homestay mom knows that she loves mangoes, so her homestay mom is always giving her mangoes to eat. Susan's low is that she's having some trouble sleeping. Susan's 'ha' is when Noah was playing his music in front of her homestay mom.

Noah's high is playing guitar in the rain! Noah's low is that he bought expired crackers (aww, poor Noah). Noah's 'ha' is singing music without anyone understanding what he's saying (especially inappropriate songs).

Jemina's high is that she made a new best friend! Her bestie's name is Fan Tah (I most likely did not spell that right at all, but that's how it sounds). Her low is that she didn't sleep enough last night (I'm with her on that one). Her 'ha' is when her homestay family played with her hair/talked about her/poked her while she sat there, not having any idea what was going on.

Chase's high is all of the friendly kids that we come across! There are often many kids along the roads who love to shout out 'Hello!' to us as we pass by. His low is that our friend Cameron had to leave the Dragons course due to stuff happening at home. You're in all of our thoughts Cameron! Chase's 'ha' is that he has been called 'beautiful' multiple times already during the homestay.

Luisa's high is that she has a nice homestay family (who also happens to know some English haha). Her low is "They keep feeding me, I'm not even hungry". Her 'ha' is that her homestay family laughs every time that she says 'thank you', or 'Aucun' (once again, I definitely spelled that wrong, but that's how it sounds).

Joy's high is that she gets to play with her homestay family's puppies! (She's so lucky!! They're very cute). Her low is that her homestay family made her eat pork. Her 'ha' is that her homestay sibling gave her an 'English for Beginners' book.

Dawn's high is that her homestay family is very very nice. Her low is that her homestay family doesn't own a cow. Her 'ha' is that her family is always feeding her, and she's not really sure who her homestay siblings are.

Kerry's high is that her room is actually 'kind of cold' (in a good way) because she has her own fan. Her low is that it's hard to adjust to such a different lifestyle. Kerry's 'ha' is that all of the neighborhood kids like to follow us around.

Matt's high is being a part of his homestay family. He doesn't have a low (maybe his back hurting from writing great field notes on the floor?). And his 'ha' is how many smiles and laughs are shared between him and his homestay family when neither side knows what the other is saying.

We're all doing well here at the homestay, and are excited that the planning phase for our 'Student Led' portion of the trip has begun! It has been a relaxing time here in Thavry's village, with lots of naps and oodles of free time. More news is to come, as are more laughs and great memories, so stay tuned for the next update folks. Until then, this is Cambodia Summer Trip 2016's reporter of the week signing off.
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SUMMER: Cambodia

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Highs, lows, and “ha”s

Matt Dornbos,SUMMER: Cambodia

Description

Everyday we do a group “check-in” to see how people are doing. Part of that is asking everyone to share a “high” moment, a “low” moment and a “ha” moment since the last check-in. Here’s the highs, lows, and ‘ha’s of everyone’s day so far at the homestay: Susan’s high is that her homestay mom […]

Posted On

07/20/16

Author

Matt Dornbos

Category

SUMMER: Cambodia

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